Published in PC Hardware

Printer makers brick rival cartridges

by on16 October 2018

Using security updates

Printer maker Epson is in hot water from activist groups after a software update prevented customers from using cheaper, third-party ink cartridges.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation now says in late 2016 or early 2017, Epson issued a "poison pill" software update that effectively downgraded user printers to block third party cartridges but disguised the software update as a meaningful improvement.

The EFF has sent a letter to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, arguing that Epson's lack of transparency can easily be "misleading and deceptive" under Texas consumer protection laws.

"When restricted to Epson's own cartridges, customers must pay Epson's higher prices, while losing the added convenience of third-party alternatives, such as refillable cartridges and continuous ink supply systems," the complaint notes.

"This artificial restriction of third-party ink options also suppresses a competitive ink market and has reportedly caused some manufacturers of refillable cartridges and continuous ink supply systems to exit the market."

It's just the latest salvo in a decades-long effort by printer manufacturers to block consumer choice, often by disguising printer downgrades as essential product improvements.


Last modified on 16 October 2018
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